What I did
- Had a helpful conversation with SEED to learn a bit more about eating disorders. This is an issue that has played on my mind after Fiona Thomas’ piece in The Telegraph on eating disorders amongst WSL players which SEED points out are everywhere.
- Meetings — on COVID with the FA, with the head of UK Sports Chaplaincy for women’s football, with an agency around a new potential sponsor, and with schools and colleagues on academy plans.
- Prep call with the team at the Hurracan Foundation, for a charity webinar event next week, alongside JJ Robbie, Mike Geddes and Gabriel Stauring.
- Media — Interviewed (thanks to an intro from Sue Anstiss at Fearless Women) on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, which was an ambition of mine in my previous roles at anti-corruption organisation Transparency International where I was spokesperson for a number of big news events, such as the Panama Papers, or various G20 Summits. The Today programme eluded me back then, but women’s football made it happen! Also talked to a young researcher at Solent Uni and the Offside Rule.
What I’m thinking about
- It’s Women’s Football Weekend. All WSL games have been well times to avoid overlap meaning you can watch every single game live via the FA Player. All the Championship games will be streamed as well — which for us at Lewes is a blessing, because whilst we livestream every single home game, we’ve only had 2 instances in away games where the game has been available to watch live. I honestly don’t understand why clubs aren’t live-streaming the games. It’s not expensive and fans are lying dormant otherwise. Fanbases need to be fed and nourished — we’ve upped the amount of filming and media stuff we are doing this year to try and still maintain the interest and the connection with supporters and owners. To date, we haven’t lost a penny from live-streaming, because we’ve covered costs through donations. And we had people from an impressive 26 countries around the world watch our battle to a 2–2 draw v Liverpool. Why wouldn’t you do it?
- Ever tightening COVID requirements. I think it’s useful for people to realise just how different football is for elite teams right now, and why I think some of the push fro more teams to return to competitive games doesn’t quite comprehend the amount of hard work that goes in to keeping COVID cases really low in elite women’s football. Many of these measures were brought in pre-season and I think we all hoped their necessity would fade out after a few weeks.
- Players still arrive to training at staggered times and have their temperature taken each time.
- They come in early once a week for COVID testing, rushing in from work or university.
- Any symptom requires a discussion with the doctor. Players with symptoms have missed training , only for the symptoms to have disappeared and tests to return negative.
- We distance on the team coach, limiting numbers.
- Staff wear a mask from coach pick-up to arrival, throughout the game and onto the coach and back home at the end of the day — that’s often more than 12 hours non-stop.
- Players are only excused from wearing a mask from the time they warm-up, to the time they get changed.
- Team huddles are now team circles, at a distance. Our team talks are now in the stands of our ground — not in the changing rooms. Last Sunday the changing rooms were too small for distanced team meetings, so our players remained on the pitch, from warm-up until cool-down, taking part in team meetings in the open. We’re fortunate it wasn’t raining.
- Players have to travel in separate cars, and have to adhere obviously to all the other government guidelines.
- There are limits on the number of people permitted to travel and be at games.
- Players adhere to strict zoning requirements in the ground on matchdays, which puts club staff and stewards through the wringer. It’s a privilege to play — but it’s also hard work.
Things I like to see
- Captain Cleverly wins Championship Player of the month! Hail to the defenders, the captains, the team engines (yeah I was no striker)!
- Lewes FC’s home ground, the wonderfully named Dripping Pan, coming in as the NUMBER 1 ground to visit across Britain in a new book looking at 100 grounds across the country! I bought a copy for my dad — you can too (though I know he’ll just want to know where Clyde Utd’s ground comes in).